Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has been filmed as a seven-part miniseries by BBC America, BBC One, and Cuba Pictures and airs on May 17 in the UK on BBC One and on June 13 in the US on BBC America. The miniseries, like the book of the same name, takes place in an alternate England during the time of the Napoleonic War. Manners and clothes are much the same, but magic has been added to the equation. Long ago, England was ruled by the Raven King. After he left, magic faded until it seemed only a thing of theory, something upper class men discussed comfortably around the fireside.
Then it turns out that the fussy, precise Mr Norrell is “quite a tolerable practical magician.” Soon after, Jonathan Strange begins to practice magic, and the two of them reshape the war and change everything about the way magic is seen in England.
If I say the book reminds me of Jane Austen, some of you will turn away now, and some of you will be disappointed when you read and/or watch. It is not Jane Austen; the scope is larger and the choice of subject different, but the narrator shares her ability to step aside and view things from an amused, though mostly sympathetic, distance. The book is not only readable, but rereadable, and the signs point to a show that is not only going to be watchable but rewatchable, which is even better.
Here is a short clip from the first episode (courtesy of BBC One)
And another look at the trailer, in case you want to admire the sand horses.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell airs on May 13 on BBC One and on June 13 on BBC America.